Invasion of Ukraine: Retired Ukrainian tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky says he is scared as he prepares to fight Russian invaders | News from around the world – News 24

A week ago, a recently retired Ukrainian tennis player, whose big moment was beating Roger Federer in the second round at Wimbledon, was trying to get his family to safety.

But last week seems like an eternity, and today Sergiy Stakhovsky waits in uniform in a bulletproof vest in the center of Kiev for the chance to fight Russian soldiers.

He told Sky News: “We flew to Budapest and I kissed the children goodbye. My wife knew I had made a decision she wasn’t going to like and she was upset.

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Sky News team under fire near Kiev

“The little one, who is a daddy’s boy, asked me where I was going and I told him I was just going to the garage and then I left.

“I crossed the border and I was the only one going the other way. There was a long line of families, women and children trying to escape.

“It was a difficult but inspiring journey. As we traveled we passed through many towns and saw the level of enthusiasm and motivation of the people.

“They were blocking the roads leading to the villages, making barricades, taking out their hunting rifles, making checkpoints.

“The whole nation is extremely motivated to fight against this. It’s insane what Russia is doing. »

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Shelling in Chernahiv intensifies

“None of them support Putin”

It’s a world away from his life as a professional player a few weeks ago, when his main concern was trying to qualify for the Australian Open and booking practice courts.

But he felt the support of the tennis community and even Russian players reached out.

“I spoke to almost all of them and none of them want war, none support Putin.

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“I know all the Russian players and I’ve talked to two about them and I also know the general opinion because we’ve known each other for years.

“It’s very hard for them,” he explains, because even calling for an end to the war is a dangerous business in Russia.

” You must understand [Alexei] Navalny [opposition leader] was poisoned and sent to prison.

“There really isn’t much stopping the Russian Federation and Putin from randomly killing people.

“No matter their rank and value. It is very difficult for professional athletes to call the regime because they still have relatives in this country who may be in danger.

“I can’t really ask tennis players to come out and say what they want to say. It’s impossible. »

“Everyone accepts that we will have to fight”

So far, he says, it’s pretty quiet in Kyiv.

“Shops are open but they don’t have enough drivers to restock but there are people on the streets trying to buy groceries and medicine.

“I do logistics, I load, I unload, I do patrols and I sleep.

“We hear shelling from time to time but nothing is very close to the city center.

“The morale is good even if everyone accepts that we have to fight. But we hope that we will be alone. »

Read more:
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‘Welcome to hell’ – the message facing Russian invaders as Kiev prepares for the fight of its life
Exhausted women and children shelter in tents after fleeing Putin’s war
What Day Nine of the Russian War Tells Us What Could Happen Next

When asked if he had ever had any military training, it seems not.

“We were told the basics and when it comes to shooting test rounds they said ‘don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of targets to shoot at’. »

He hasn’t seen any Russian soldiers yet.

” Unfortunately no. If there is a small unit that enters the city, there will be a Wild Hunt.

“Everyone is going to have them. This is no place for Russians. »

So, is he afraid?

“Yes, yes I am,” he replies.

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Invasion of Ukraine: Retired Ukrainian tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky says he is scared as he prepares to fight Russian invaders | News from around the world – News 24